Economy


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The capitalist pundits are worried that the US and world capitalist economy is not recovering as they expected. Stock markets around the world are plummeting, investment spending is unusually weak and consumer spending unusually strong. This current capitalist economic cycle has no precedent in the whole post-war period. Yet this pattern has at least one ominous parallel before the second world war: the US economy of 1926-29.

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Our economics correspondent Michael Roberts looks at the British economy and the real situation facing workers in Britain today, which is somewhat different to the rosy picture painted by Tony Blair and his spin doctors.

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Our economics correspondent Michael Roberts looks at the UK Finance Minister, Gordon Brown's budget, which was announced last week. He is going to raise taxes in order to spend more on the health service. But as he has no intention of changing the fundamental nature of the economy, a better health service must come from the pockets of the hardest-working labour force in Europe.

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They think it's all over. The capitalist media is saying that the world capitalist economy, led by the US is recovering fast. Indeed, they say, there was no economic recession or downturn at all - or if there was, it was hardly noticeable. Michael Roberts investigates the truth of this idea.

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Steel industry correspondent Miles Todd explains that industrial action is the only way to prevent massive job losses.

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On Wednesday March 6, President Bush imposed tariffs as high as 30% on most steel imports coming to the US from Asia and Europe. This will hit European steel makers hard, especially in Britain where there is a slump already in the steel industry. In periods of capitalist economic downturn, national interests predominate over international. Bush is supposedly a supporter of the "free market". But the Wall Street Journalcalled the tariff "perhaps the most dramatically protectionist step of any president in decades."

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The US has just suffered the steepest decline in economic growth ever - from a breakneck pace of 4.1% annually in the years 1998-2000 to a negative 1.1% in the third quarter of 2001. But now most capitalist economists forecast the US is on course for what they characterise as a V-shaped recovery, and along with it, the end of the world recession of 2001-02. Our Economics Correspondent Michael Roberts looks at this theory.

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We are also publishing an article from the British Marxist magazine Socialist Appeal about the desperate plight of the steel industry in Britain and its workers.

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The collapse of Enron is the biggest crash in corporate history. In a matter of months the total share "value" of energy firm Enron, the seventh biggest company in America, went from $80 billion to next to nothing. Mick Brooks takes a look at Enron's so-called energy trading.

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The ignominious collapse of Houston, Texas-based Enron is a powerful reminder of how "business as usual" is conducted in the epoch of capitalist decay and imperialism. This formidable downfall has had far-reaching effects, and there are many lessons that the working class can learn from it. By John Peterson, editor, Socialist Appeal(USA).

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The overriding economic factor for the first half of this decade will be deflation i.e. an economy where prices are falling. Deflation is going to affect every area of the world capitalist economy, particularly profitable investments.

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Michael Roberts, our economics correspondent looks at the prospects for the world economy in the year 2002. Barely a year ago, the world's leading economic and financial organisations and most economists predicted that the U.S. economy would grow by 3.5% in 2001 and by a similar rate in 2002. Considering that new data show an economy that is rapidly deteriorating right across the board, a final outcome of less than zero growth until year-end 2001 presently seems the best bet. The question now is not whether the world is in recession but how long it will last and how deep it will be. And yet optimism reigns in the stock markets as we start the New Year. This is...

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British capitalism is ill equipped to escape the huge downturn in world capitalist economic activity. The world is not going to recover quickly from the economic recession of 2001. Gordon Brown's proclamation of the end of "boom and bust" will be exposed for what it is.

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The World Trade Organisation has recently held its summit. Their aim was to skulk in Qatar in the Gulf of Arabia, as far as they could get from the 'teamsters to turtles' coalition against all that is wrong about capitalism. An important part of their agenda has been the General Agreement on Trade in Services - GATS, due to come into by the end of 2002. But what is GATS and why do we need to fight it?

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The ripple effect of the terrorist attacks has spread far and wide. It was clear from the beginning that the airline and insurance industries, as well as the stock market in general (except for the armaments industry!) would suffer. But there have been other consequences that no one could have predicted.

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The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the body representing the world's richest 30 countries, has predicted that this year economic growth would be as low as 1% and would be only 1.2% next year. At the same time, capitalist economists forecast that global economic growth this year and next would be the worst for 30 years. The great economic recession of the early 21st century is under way.

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Our economics correspondent, Michael Roberts, looks at the different attittude of working people and capitalists when faced with tragedy and explains how the terrorist attacks on September 11 are likely to be the tipping point which will plunge the world economy into recession.

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The last time Michael Roberts commented on the state of the US and world economy was in May. The piece was called: "The worst is yet to come". Now things are getting worse for world capitalism. The US economy is in "recession" and there is little doubt that the third quarter figures will confirm the end of the long boom. Michael Roberts updates our analysis of the present economic situation.

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The world’s stock markets took a big hit in the first quarter of 2001. The US markets were down at least 10%, as was the UK’s FTSE index. The world index of all stock markets measured in dollars was down 14%. The technology sectors were hit even more. The US hi-tech index, the NASDAQ, fell 26% in the first three months of this year and the UK’s Techmark index did nearly as badly. Michael Roberts looks at the relationship between the stock exchange and the business cycle and the likely effects of this collapse on the real economy.

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The complacent optimism of capitalist consensus is fast disappearing. At the beginning of this year, the general view about the world economy was that US growth would slow gradually to about 3% from 5%, Japan would pick up a little to about 2% and Europe would trundle along at about 2.5%. The US central bank, the Federal Reserve, would cut interest rates to ensure that any slowdown would not mean a loss of investor confidence or consumer demand. Well, January seems like eons ago in global economics. After a non-stop spate of warnings about lower profits from the main US corporations and the release of economic data each day that showed a weakening economy, US...

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For the past few years we have been carefully following the development of the US and world economies. Yet almost overnight, instead of "the boom will last forever", the press now has stories about "how to survive the recession", and openly discusses the economic slowdown. They don't even blush at the fact that mere months ago they were encouraging everyone to get into the stock market or miss out on fabulous wealth and early retirement! We explained long ago that the so-called "New Economic Paradigm" was nothing new at all - that it was an investment boom propelled by the super-exploitation of the working class and ex-colonial...

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The euro's launch has been greeted with a well-orchestrated campaign of official enthusiasm, designed to silence all doubts on the question. The Euro has finally been introduced as a common currency in 12 of the EU states. This is an important development. A common currency is the first condition towards European integration. It ought to boost internal trade and thus act as a powerful stimulus to the development of the productive forces. But is this going to happen?

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Michael Roberts looks back at the year 2000, the year when the US hi-tech stock market bubble burst, and views the economic prospects for the coming year.

The capitalist system moves in a never-ending cycle of booms and slumps. That has been the case for the last two hundred years. The cycle of booms and slumps, however, does not have a fixed and regular character. To begin with, the length of the cycle has always been somewhat flexible. In Marx's day it was an average of 10 years, but in the years of upswing after the second world war it was considerably less, something like 5-6 years, or even less. The exact length of the cycle is therefore not a principled question for Marxists. What is necessary is to analyse concretely the nature of the cycle, and try to establish how it will most likely evolve. The prolongation of the boom

...

On September 28, 2000 a majority of the Danish voters said no to the Euro - 53.1% voted No and 46.9% voted Yes. This was a surprisingly high No-vote, since almost all the different opinion polls and "experts" etc., had been predicting a very close, almost fifty-fifty situation. The participation in the referendum was very high - about 88%, which is the highest percentage in a Danish EU-referendum since the first one in 1972 where 90.4% voted.


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Amid the protests taking place in Prague against the International Monetary Fund, pollsters everywhere are detecting a growing anti-corporate mood throughout the major capitalist countries. After years of privatisation, stock market euphoria and propaganda about the wonders of the capitalist market, the pendulum is certainly swinging in the opposite direction.

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In the last month or so, the world's stock markets have taken a huge tumble, down about 20% on average. Of course, prices of shares in most markets are still way above where they were five years ago and even still above levels of 18 months ago. After the excitement of the US stock market index, the Dow, going over 10,000, it seemed there was no stopping the boom. The Dow hit 11,500 and the NASDAQ index, which combines the prices of all the new high-technology and Internet company shares (like Yahoo, Cisco, Microsoft and Amazon), rose to an amazing 4,500 from just 1,000 only two years ago. There was even talk of the Dow going to 36,000 within a few years! But the...

At the end of September 2000, tens of thousands have been trying to protest at the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Prague. They are right to protest. But what are they protesting about? The World Bank, IMF and the World Trade Organisation - that was stopped in its tracks in Seattle last December - are the three pillars of the global capitalist economic order. They argue that problems like world poverty, the destruction of the environment and poisoning of our food "just happen." Actually these things are imposed by the giant multinationals that control the world's economic resources. And these three institutions are their enforcers.


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A decade ago in the heady days of 'capitalism's final triumph', when the New World Order was announced and the End of History proclaimed, the century old industry of writing learned tomes under which to bury the ideas of Marxism appeared to have become redundant. Yet before one could finish reading a single volume of these confused scribblings, the New World Order choked beneath the ashes of war in the Balkans; the south east Asian economies collapsed; leaving the New Paradigm hanging by the single thread of the innovations associated with new technology.

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Boo.com is the first biggish internet start-up to collapse losing its investors over £80m. Michael Roberts looks at the bursting internet stocks bubble and predicts that "profitless prosperity will turn into deflating depression.

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In the last few weeks there has been a huge crash in the stock prices of the new information technology companies. Until then, the great new economy of computers, mobile phones, digital TV and, above all, the internet has been greeted by capitalist investors around the world as an unstoppable avenue to untold wealth. Every day we have been told in the newspapers of yet another 20-something internet entrepreneur, who becomes a multi-millionaire overnight, thanks to a launch on the stock market.

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On March 24th, after an accumulated fall of the Cyprus Stock Exchange of nearly 50% over a period of five months, angry investors decided to march on the Stock Exchange to try and force the prices up! Millions of working class families are investing their savings on the stock exchange in the belief that it can only go upwards. This article gives a glimpse of the social and political effects of a collapse in the stock exchange.

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In this 10,000 word article Mick Brooks analyses in detail all the claims of the proponents of the "new economic paradigm" from a Marxist point of view and proves why this, far from being a 'new economy' in which the business cycle has been abolished, is something we have seen many times before in the history of capitalism.

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It is only a matter of time before the US internet bubble is burst, investments collapse and consumption of the masses falls back because of a loss of confidence in the 'new economy'. The internet revolution is a great technical leap forward. But under capitalism, it is being exploited by more and more precious investment capital being thrown into this tiny sector of the economy at the expense of all the rest.

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A look back at our economic forecast of 18 months ago. Has anything really changed in the economic situation?

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"Asia's astonishing bounce-back" - this is the kind of headline that has started to appear in recent months. Having apparently shrugged off the effects of the stock markets crash in 1997, they are now anxiously looking for signs of revival in Asia and Europe as proof that the world has avoided recession. Once more the advocates of the so-called New Economic Paradigm proclaim the triumph of the free market. However, such triumphalism lacks any semblance of a scientific basis. The serious representatives of capital look with growing concern at the prospects for the world economy.

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Michael Roberts looks into the enormous concentration of wealth in the hand of the few at the top.

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Paul Krugman's new book argues that the world might be facing a depression again which can only be avoided by returning to Keynesian policies. Phil Mitchinson reviews the book and points out the flaws of Krugman's "solutions".

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This Socialist Appeal editorial looks at the increasing number of economic experts who recognise that the world economy depends on a speculative bubble which cannot last for much longer.

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Seventy years after the 1929 stock exchange crash which led to the Big Depression, Mick Brooks looks at how the stock exchange works, what causes speculation and concludes that "what goes up, must come down".

Two years ago, at the time of the collapse of the Southeast Asian economies, we published a document called "The first tremors of the coming slump". Jonathan Clyne, editor of the Swedish Marxist magazine Socialistenlooks at what we said at the time and concludes that "our basic analysis of the epoch is still correct". Translated from Socialisten 43, September 1999.

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The US stock market has reached new highs. By any definition it is fantastically valued. Michael Roberts looks at the reasons behind the speculative fever and its relations with the real economy and concludes that a total eclipse is not far away.

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Peter Johnson (editor of Newyouth.com) explains the how a massive prision population of 1.8 million people affect the unemployement figures.

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There's a saying among girls in the slums of Bangladesh: if you're lucky, you'll be a prostitute - if you're unlucky, you'll be a garment worker. The fashion industry is big business. It makes a lot of money - but over the world, textile and clothing workers are poor. Yet they work hard. They say nobody ever got rich though hard work. But it's not true. The people who work hard never got rich through working hard. But the rich got rich by getting other people like us to work hard for them. That's the way of the world under capitalism. Mick Brooks explains how surplus value is generated in the fashion industry.

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The world is heading for a major slump in the next 12- 18 months. All the signs are there. On the surface, all seems reasonably rosy. The world's stock markets have recovered from their autumn crash and the 'real economy' of developed capitalism also performed reasonably well in 1998. Only Japan continued to dive by nearly 3%. But so-called emerging Asia suffered the worst slump in a lifetime, while Russia entered yet another horrific downturn as the rouble collapsed. Latin America is now sliding into recession. Overall, the capitalist world grew about 1.5%, hardly enough to compensate for population growth. And 1998 was a relatively good year. The neon signs of...

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Labor journalist David Bacon investigates the efforts to unionise Latino workers in California

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Here's a prediction. The US economy is heading for slump. By the end of this year, that reality will start to emerge behind the smoke and mirrors of stock market exuberance and big business bluster. Since 1945, all world slumps have started in the US. This time will be no exception. Europe is just beginning to pick up steam. Its budding boom will be cut off by the frost of the American recession. Japan and Asia are already freezing. Before the millennium is reached, the world will be ice.

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"False Dawn", by LSE professor John Gray, takes us on a world tour of the social devastation being left in capitalism's wake. Fascinating for its factual and statistical data alone, it is perhaps Gray's conclusions which make the deepest impression. The free market he argues will cause disaster, war, ethnic conflict, environmental destruction and impoverish millions. Yet throughout a lucid and empirically remarkable work, Gray offers no hope, proposes no reform and predicts the gloomiest of futures. In essence he argues that the global market economy is fatally flawed and incapable of reform.

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"Flat on its back for years and showing few signs of life, Japan's economy was nonetheless still in the world of the living. When we last checked, that is. Reports of its imminent demise are now coming thick and fast. A world that had grown bored with the 'Japan isn't growing' story is suddenly paying attention to the new 'Japan will collapse and take the rest of us with it' story." The Economist, 11/4/98. Phil Mitchinson analyses the reasons behind.

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This long article by Alan Woods reviews the events since the stock exchange crash of October 1997, and how the crisis has spread to the once powerfull economies of South Korea and Japan despite the reassuring comments of most bourgeois economist in the aftermath of the crash. An update to the ideas developed in Ted Grant's article The First Tremors - An analysis of the global economic situation

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